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The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos
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The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos (Great Discoveries)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Trained as a musician, amateur scientist William Herschel found international fame after discovering the planet Uranus in 1781. Though he is still best known for this finding, his partnership with his sister Caroline yielded groundbreaking work, including techniques that remain in use today. The duo pioneered comprehensive surveys of the night sky, carefully categorizing ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 1st 2008)
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Rebecca Huston
Aug 15, 2013 Rebecca Huston rated it it was amazing
A very good book that helps to make science less scary. This slim book (it's under 200 pages) introduces the lives and times and works of William and Caroline Herschel, a brother and sister from Hanover, Germany who helped to design a system of charting and cataloging the night skies, and identifying the planet Uranus, the first planet that was discovered with telescopes rather than the naked eye. I enjoyed this one very much, and it gets five stars from me.

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Sep 27, 2016 Nic rated it really liked it
A great, concise history of a truly influential scientist
Jul 08, 2013 James rated it liked it
I sometimes think that Shakespeare's sonnets contain as much wisdom about humanity as his plays or the novels of Proust. I keep finding connections with other reading or thinking in which I am engaged and that gives me pause to reflect and enjoy yet another of Shakespeare's fine sonnets. I recently read the biography of William and Caroline Herschel, The Georgian Star, by Michael D. Lemonick. And then I encountered, again, Shakespeare's fourteenth sonnet, below, and was taken with the resonance. ...more
A workmanlike biography of a workmanlike figure. This biography focuses on William Herschel and his sister Caroline. Their major accomplishment was the discovery of Uranus, the first new planet to be discovered since around the time of the Babylonians. Although I was somewhat disappointed to learn that Herschel was neither the first to see it and that even after months of detailed observations he thought it was a small, near-by comet -- and only after others decided it was a planet did he go ...more
Dec 16, 2008 Beatriz rated it it was amazing
Smooth, stimulating and easy going down, like a good wine! This book, written for non-scientists, is a great introduction to Herschel's legacy, historical significance and discoveries. I read it in a couple of hours and was left feeling very satisfied. The scientific parts are not neglected, but they are explained so lucidly and plainly that anyone can understand them. Best yet, this book is part of a series by different authors called The Great Discoveries series (some libraries catalogue it ...more
Nov 06, 2013 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A summary of the lives of William and Caroline Herschel, this biography focuses on William to the detriment of Caroline. It’s a quick introduction to the two – and Mr. Lemonick does a good job of capturing William’s early life – but I found it disappointing after the profile of the Herschel siblings in Richard Holmes’s Age of Wonder. The book wins points for the small time commitment needed, but given the number of times Dr. Michael Hoskin’s research on the Herschel siblings is mentioned, I’m ...more
Stephan Frank
Jul 29, 2015 Stephan Frank rated it really liked it
Notes for myself :
Very quick and extremely light reading.
Obviously not too detailed on many of the technical aspects,
but at least not incorrect !
Caroline, while being praised, remains still somewhat in the shadow of
her brother in this description of their lives.

Quite fascinating to see how the Herschels basically helped shaping today's astronomers' attitudes towards observing, instrument building, and conclusions being drawn from data, as well as innovative methods to test hypotheses.

Courtney Johnston
Feb 05, 2010 Courtney Johnston rated it liked it
An interesting and pleasant read, but doesn't add greatly to the chapter on the Herschel's in Richard Holmes's extremely good 'The Age of Wonder'. However, it did introduce me to the IAG website and the Gazeeter of Planetary Nomenclature, which is *awesome*.
Raphael Rosen
Nov 06, 2013 Raphael Rosen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Lemonick's prose is excellent, and I really liked Herschel's story. I knew very little about his discovery of Uranus, and nothing about his investigations of infrared light. Well done.
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